UPPER WEST SIDE — The city is combating the parade of rats plaguing local residents by cutting off their food source — trash — a scheme city officials say is working remarkably well.
Rats are thriving with ready access to food from the trash cans stationed at the Broadway Malls, the sections of greenery dividing Broadway on the Upper West Side, City Councilmember Gale Brewer said. Plus, she noted that the the malls' ivy ground cover provides an ideal burrowing and nesting space.
To combat the problem, the city's Department of Sanitation moved the trash cans from the traffic medians on Broadway at West 74th and 75th streets, transferring them to the adjacent street corners so that access to grub isn't as easy for vermin living in the malls, Brewer explained.
Fairway Market has agreed to be extra vigilant in emptying the trash cans on those corners, located next to its Broadway and West 74th Street store, Brewer said.
The popular grocery chain completely overhauled its store after a mouse was spotted in the olives last September in a video that went viral, and wanted to extend its vermin prevention outside the store, the councilwoman said.
The Parks Department also filled in the soil at those two stretches of malls with Stalite, a non-toxic building material known to disrupt rats' ability to create nests.
The public-private partnership "has been unbelievably successful" in cutting down on the rat population so far, Brewer said.
The Parks Department added it has already noticed a reduction in the amount of rodents.
"We have observed an improvement [in the number of rats]," said Parks spokesman Philip Abramson.
So far, the efforts have only been tested in a small corner of the neighborhood, but it could be an effective model to extend along the length of the Broadway Malls, Brewer noted.
"This would be a great thing to do up and down the mall," she said.
But there would have to be partners to empty the trash cans regularly for it work.
"Rats have to go somewhere," Brewer said, "but we don’t want them here."